Thursday, May 23, 2013

Communion in a non-Catholic Service

Q.  Can Catholics receive communion in a non-Catholic ceremony?



R.     Catholics believe that the Eucharist is a sign of unity.  This is one of the reasons that Protestants can’t ordinarily receive Communion in Catholic churches.  The same holds true in the opposite direction:  For a Catholic to receive Protestant communion would not only give the impression that the Protestant version is valid, but it would also create a false sense of unity.  There is no true unity between us sadly and for us to receive communion in a Protestant church would be lying with our bodies.  Almost as if we would say yes by bobbing our heads up and down in the affirmative but saying no with our words.  We would be giving a mixed message, and a confusing one.  And therefore lend confusion as to what the Catholic Church actually teaches on the matter.


And that, my friend, is the main reason a Catholic Christian shouldn’t receive communion in a non-Catholic church.  The Catholic Church teaches in the True Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, most other churches do not believe in this change.  For a Catholic to receive communion in a non-Catholic church would be saying to the other Christians of that church that he believes as they do.  The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith.  Everything revolves around this fact, the fact that Jesus Christ is actually present in the consecrated bread and wine.  We would be doing a great disservice to those Christians by going along with their ideology.  We ought to provoke their thinking instead and to wake them up from their complacency by simply not partaking of communion and keeping to the truth.  In fact, we are not in full communion with each other yet and pretending that we are is not helpful for any member of His Church.

God Bless


  1. I have a question, my brother, who is Catholic, is planning on getting married later this year to a girl who is also Catholic. Problem 1- she was married before, and is in the midst of the annulment process. Problem 2- They are getting married outside the Church by a justice of the peace. Problem 3- He would like me and the rest of my Catholic family to attend. My parents say we cannot attend without incurring mortal sin, but I would like to be there for my brother. A bit confused here. Should I go?


  2. Hi Mark, I'm Cathmom5 and contributor here. The best person to ask these questions is a priest or an expert in canon law. However, some things to consider are:

    Can. 1118 §1. A marriage between Catholics or between a Catholic party and a non-Catholic baptized party is to be celebrated in a parish church. It can be celebrated in another church or oratory with the permission of the local ordinary or pastor.
    Some really good points in Fr. Hoffman's article "May I attend the Wedding?" at Catholic Answers:
    "On the one hand, they want to show their support for family and friends, want to be faithful to Christ and His teachings on marriage. Sometimes, the two seem to come in conflict and difficult choices must be made. However, if we are faithful to Christ, this will always benefit our loved ones. We are called to “love the sinner, but hate the sin.” "

    Here is what Jimmy Akin says in his article "Can You Attend the Wedding?":
    "I take a strict line on attending weddings that are presumptively invalid. I never advise people to go to those because of the signal it will send to the participants–and others.
    But if the marriage is presumptively valid, I don’t view it that way at all."

    As I said, I would seek the counsel of a priest. On the one hand you don't want to cause scandal in your family or your church, but on the other hand you don't want to shun your brother's wedding without a very good reason.

  3. While for the most part I am in agreement with cathmom5, I am in more agreement with Jimmy Akin's "strict line" here. The two are Catholics and are getting "married" outside the Catholic Church. It would not be prudent, and likely a mortal sin for Catholics to attend and/or participate in this event. Is there any chance your brother and his fiance can wait until the annulment decision is made?

    1. Added reply to Mark... Nathan posted a nice article on a similar matter... if Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and He built this One, True Church - why get married "another way?"

  4. More for Mark:
    Case 4: “Remarriage of a divorced person without annulment.” Invalid. Potentially remediable through annulment and sanatio (from the Latin for “healing”), which cannot be presumed. For purposes of clarity, an annulment invalidates a marriage, while sanatio validates a marriage. Practicing Catholics should not attend. Possibly against natural law; certainly does not fulfill canon law.
    outdoor wedding
    Thinkstock photo

    Because of the strong words of Jesus cited above (see Mt 19:9), I don’t see how a practicing Catholic in good conscience can attend a wedding ceremony that he knows will be an invalid marriage. His/her attendance seems to condone what is going on. Rather, he should explain to the individauls that he loves them and prays for them and wants the very best for them, but that he will not be helping them at all if he ignores the clear teachings of Jesus Christ. These can be very hard conversations. But remember what Jesus said: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father” (Mt 10:32). That should be some consolation.


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